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Modern Muzzleloading Marvels, August 1

July 29, 2011

The ignition system and electronic trigger on the CVA Electra.

This show may be heard  following its broadcast date by clicking on the following link: If it is not the current show it is still  available as an archived show and on iTunes.

Modern technologies have resulted in improved muzzleloading guns and components that resulted in an electric-fired rifle that is more weatherproof and accurate than any previous gun in its class and percussion revolvers that can produce 500 ft./lbs. of muzzle energy and be considered appropriate handguns for hunting deer and hogs.

  The CVA Electra rifle was introduced in 2008. This gun employs an igniter that functions like a spark plug in its breech that is fired by an electric charge derived from a 9-volt battery stored in the gun’s stock. With no gas escaping except from the guns’ muzzle, the result is a muzzleloader that is easy to clean, has a good trigger and one that ignites the powder charge without displacing it, as is frequently the case with guns using 209-primers.

The gun is ready to fire when the red diode flashes.

  Despite the Electra’s award-winning features and dealer acceptance, shooters did not purchase the gun in sufficient numbers to continue production. Some were discouraged when the Electra was outlawed a few states, but most were apparently not convinced that this technology was for them. “A gun that was  introduced before its time,” agreed BPI’s CEO Dudley McGarity.

  Shooting of the gun indicated no problems with the ignition system, but care had to be taken to crunch power pellets over the top of the breech plug to insure that the gun would fire. While this is easy to do with a heavy range rod, it was more difficult with the ramrod supplied with the gun. There was also a problem with the gun’s iron sights. The front sight was too low to allow the rear sight to be adjusted low enough to zero the gun at ranges less than several hundred yards. An expedient solution was to remove the sights and use only the front bead and shoot the gun like a smoothbore shotgun using a slug. With this improvised method hits could be obtained on targets out to 40 yards with sufficient accuracy to kill deer.

The now discontinued Ruger Old Army is the best percussion revolver yet made, but its production has been discontinued.

  Modern percussion revolvers, notably the Ruger Old Army and stainless steel versions made by Pietta, such as the 12-inch-barreled “Buffalo” imported by Cabelas, can produce 500 ft./lbs. of muzzle energy with hunting weight bullets when loaded with Hodgdon’s Triple Seven FFFg powder. This black-powder substitute is approximately 10 percent more powerful that conventional black powder and is particularly appropriate for use in these modern strong revolvers because of their limited chamber capacities.

  Pioneering work in developing loads and new bullets for these revolvers is being done by Kaido Ojamaa who has new Keith-inspired bullet molds for 240-grain bullets and will soon have them in 255-grain weights. The lighter bullets work better in slower twist revolvers such as the Pietta, whereas the heavier weights are more accurate in the faster twists barrels of the Ruger Old Army. Bullets and molds may be obtained from Ojamaa at

 The 150th anniversary of the American Civil War is bringing renewed interest to the subject of percussion revolvers, and the best made of their modern derivatives with adjustable sights, longer barrels and stainless steel construction are viable hunting guns when used with modern powders and bullets.

Pietta's stainless steel "Buffalo" with its 12-inch barrel and adjustable sights imported by Cabelas.

 An accompanying 7-part video series, “Modern Percussion Revolvers,” is now available at the wmhoveysmith channel on  YouTube, and “Part 1”  of this series may be seen by activating the following link: Load and ballistic information may be found on the author’s blog at

 As much about launching new products in the outdoor field as about guns and loads, the interviews with McGarity and Ojamaa discuss some of the perils of  new product development and introduction. These point out the needs to make sure that the products, “as delivered” are really those that were agreed upon and that they are in all respects fully functional. It is easy to be consumed with the high-tech aspects of a product and sometimes overlook basic functionality.

  I am now offering business consulting and business coaching with a no-obligation introductory session at $200 an hour which includes both pre-session correspondence and a follow-up written report.  For details go to A free teliseminar “Starting Your Own Outdoor Business” will be held on August 18 at 5:00 AM Eastern time. To receive call-in formation send a request to One question will be accepted prior to the event and others during it.  For a small fee, participants will receive a written  report of the event.

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